Eternal Questions about Test Assignments: For the Applicant – To Do or Not To Do, For the Employer – To Pay or Not To Pay. We’ve decided to figure out what’s more beneficial for the company and how to organize a test assignment correctly.
Let’s start with the basics
A test assignment is a task similar to the candidate’s job responsibilities and is performed before the interview. Typically, a test assignment is relevant for assessing the skills of candidates in the following professions:
- Authors, translators, editors, journalists
- Marketers, advertising managers
With a test assignment, the employer aims to evaluate the candidate’s real abilities, and based on the information obtained, make a decision regarding their potential for the position. However, in practice, it is often more complicated.
Undoubtedly, assessing the level of professionalism of technical candidates, authors, and designers in an interview is more challenging than through testing. But to obtain the most relevant information with a test assignment, it must be approached correctly.
The goals of a test assignment are as follows:
- Analyzing the candidate’s actual knowledge and skills to assess their competence
- Understanding the thought process in approaching the given task
- Evaluating the candidate’s pace and productivity
To pay or not to pay
The main question that concerns all employers is whether to pay for the test assignment.
The thing is, there is no one-size-fits-all answer; it depends on the situation.
It’s important to inform the candidate upfront about whether their work will be compensated. Here are the options:
- The test assignment is not paid.
- It is paid if all conditions are met (regardless of whether the candidate is hired or not); consequently, if the conditions are not met, it is not paid.
- It is paid only if the candidate is hired.
- It is paid in any case.
In general, it is rarely reasonable not to pay. If you are not willing to pay for the test assignment under any circumstances, you will have a hard time attracting a good specialist. It is only appropriate in one case: if you need a complete beginner whom you plan to train yourself, and you want to understand whether they have any potential at all.
Paying when the conditions are met is a good choice for companies that can afford it. For example, if you are hiring a junior developer with no portfolio or recommendations, it makes perfect sense for them to complete a test assignment, and you are willing to pay for good work. However, you also understand that you might receive a hundred test assignments of questionable quality that are not worth paying for. Clearly define the conditions of the test assignment and how you will evaluate it. Tasks that didn’t fit your needs but meet all the technical specifications should be compensated.
Most employers only pay for the test assignment to the candidate who receives an offer. On one hand, this is entirely logical, especially for small companies that cannot afford to pay everyone. On the other hand, candidates may not have enough motivation to do their best.
Paying is always appropriate only when you are looking for a super specialist or a highly specialized professional. In other words, when you are confident that there will be few candidates, and the test assignment will be complex. However, such situations are not very common.
Why Paying for a Test Assignment Is Normal
If a candidate knows that their effort will be compensated, they are more motivated to do their best and showcase their skills. For employers seeking good professionals, this is crucial. Sometimes, it is more cost-effective to pay for the test assignments of ten candidates than to hire someone who is not a suitable fit.
Here are a few advantages of paying for a test assignment:
- The candidate feels like they are in a real work situation and puts in more effort.
- It provides a clear demonstration of how the company treats its employees and candidates.
- Allows you to evaluate the candidate from various angles in a “real-world” environment.
How to Organize a Test Assignment Brilliantly
To ensure your money isn’t wasted, you should follow a few rules that will help improve the evaluation process and yield more meaningful results.
Give the candidate time
No specialist will be able to showcase their skills effectively if they only have an hour to complete a task. Especially considering that many applicants are still working and may not have the immediate availability to complete a test assignment.
Ideal: If you discuss the task, for example, on a Thursday or Friday, allowing the candidate until Monday to complete it.
Avoid giving candidates tasks that require in-depth knowledge of all the tools used in your company. Remember that your employees learned these tools on the job. So, don’t assign a task that would require 10 hours of studying and mastering new, rarely used tools.
Ideal: A task that is not overly complex but still informative and doesn’t require in-depth context study.
Opportunity to Showcase Skills
Try to understand two things about the candidate right away:
- How well they can follow a plan.
- How they act when they have the opportunity to choose.
For example, a test assignment for a writer: write an informative article about movies, integrate an advertisement for service N, with a word count of 3000. The primary expectations are outlined, but the format of the article (list, top-rated, informative) is left to the candidate’s discretion.
An example for a web developer candidate: create a small application for tracking and sorting watched movies using various criteria. The specifics of how movies will be stored and other details are left to the discretion of the applicant.
Ideal: A simple yet engaging task that offers an opportunity for the candidate to showcase their skills.
We rarely practice team discussions with the performer regarding the test assignment, but it’s an additional opportunity to learn more about the candidate. Let them present and defend their work, and then team members can share their impressions, what they liked, and what they didn’t. This also helps understand how the candidate responds to criticism.
Ideal: Give them a chance to present and defend their work.
Thoroughly describe the technical requirements for the assignment in written form. Try to cover most nuances but leave room for independent decision-making, as described in point three. Don’t forget to specify the criteria by which the assignment will be evaluated.
Ideal: Set clear expectations and indicate how the work will be assessed.
If it was agreed that the test assignment would be paid, it should be compensated immediately after the team discussion. The candidate should receive payment for their work, even if they didn’t pass the competition.
Ideal: Promise what was agreed upon; don’t tarnish the employer’s reputation.
How to Evaluate the Results
We have identified several indicators to help you determine whether or not to hire a candidate.
- The candidate asked many questions.
- The candidate genuinely wanted to ensure they understood all the information.
- The result matched the task, and the necessary tools were used to achieve it.
Do not hire
- Refusal to complete the test assignment (arguments can vary from distrust to the belief that other companies will hire the candidate without a test).
- The solution does not meet the requirements.
- The candidate cannot defend their work and provide reasoned explanations for their decisions.
Options for test assignments
It is important to note that there are many online tools for assessing the skills of developer candidates. The most well-known one is Codility, but you can find online tests for almost any programming language or framework, or even create your own.
Test Assignment for Junior PHP Developer
- As part of this test assignment, you need to implement a URL shortening service:
- A site visitor enters any original URL into the input field, such as http://domain/any/path, etc.
- Clicks the submit button.
- The page makes an Ajax request to the server and receives a unique short URL.
- The short URL is displayed on the page as http://yourdomain/abCdE (without using external interfaces like goo.gl, etc.).
- Visitors can copy the short URL and repeat the process with another link.
The short URL should be unique, redirect to the original link, and remain valid forever, regardless of how many times it has been used.
- Use PHP.
- Do not use any frameworks.
- Source code.
- System requirements and installation instructions on our platform.
Test Assignment for Article Author
You have prepared an SEO text on the topic “What is CGI.” Come up with the following headings for it: a) for search engines, b) for social networks.
You were asked to write a text related to mobile app marketing. The task is to get the maximum response in the professional sphere. Propose and justify the structure of such material.
Write the text you described in the second task. There are no size requirements – if you can express the idea correctly with the minimum number of characters, that will be an advantage. We evaluate quality, not quantity.
- Use Google Docs.
- Use headers, subheaders, and lists.
- Highlight important information.
- Uniqueness of at least 90%.
- Readability: classical up to 4, academic up to 9.
- Filler words up to 20, spam up to 50.
Can you opt out of the test assignments?
Test assignments are not a panacea. They are effective for some professions and useless for others. However, even for the first group, they should be used wisely to genuinely assess a candidate’s skills.
When deciding whether to use preliminary test assignments, whether to pay for them or not, it is essential to base your decision on the situation and respect the efforts of your candidates.
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